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5 ways to help others during the COVID-19 outbreak

It has been a rough month for members of the University of Utah community—from anxiety over the novel coronavirus to disappointing cancellations to an earthquake in the Salt Lake Valley. We understand this has been a tremendously difficult time and we want to help cheer you up.

Luckily, there are ways improve your mood and help your community at the same time. Since helping someone else can be one of the best feelings there is and not all heroes wear capes, we’ve rounded up some tips from various university and county departments on what you can do to help others during the COVID-19 outbreak:

1. Donate to a local food bank.

With the temporary closing of public schools—and the meal programs that many families rely on—and grocery stores struggling to keep up with demand, the Utah Food Bank has already noticed an increased demand for its services and is anticipating a ripple effect for months to come. The food bank always accepts monetary donations and you can fill a virtual shopping cart with the items needed most.

Check your local food bank’s website for options to donate.

2. Support small businesses.

The Salt Lake County Health Department is one of many entities across the country asking bars, restaurants and shops to close or limit service in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. This leaves thousands of servers, suppliers and small business owners with no paycheck and no way to pay their bills. The Economic Policy Institute estimates 3 million jobs will be lost by this summer.

While we are advised against visiting these establishments, we can buy gift cards. Kenny Malone from NPR’s Planet Money podcast said purchasing gift cards can make a big difference while small businesses wait for emergency loans from the state and federal governments.

If you’d like to support food and beverage workers Salt Lake City, a great resource is the Tip Your Server program. Every donation will go directly to the 15,000 hospitality workers recently displaced.

Another great option is to share how much you love them on social media. University of Utah’s Continuing Education & Community Engagement shared an Instagram post encouraging liking, sharing  and leaving nice comments on a small business’ page. Leaving them great reviews online can also give them a boost.

3. Check on those most vulnerable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those most at risk for more serious complications from COVID-19 include:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of any age with underlying medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease or diabetes
  • Pregnant women

If you happen to have a friend, family member or neighbor who is considered high risk, offer to get them groceries or other supplies they may need so they don’t have to risk exposure. Encourage them to get some kind of exercise either in their home or by taking a short walk. You may also be able to help by simply taking the time to talk to them either in person or on the phone. The CDC says connecting with others can help relieve stress and loneliness.

4. Share your skills.

University of Utah Health leaders advise staying connected during this time of social distancing. Fortunately, technology can allow us to share the skills we may possess without having to leave our homes.

If you are a teacher whose classes have been canceled or moved online, you may consider making educational video clips. If you are a yoga instructor whose studio is closed, you may ask friends to join you for a Facebook Live yoga class. If you are a musician with canceled shows, you may play for an online audience.

5. Keep yourself healthy.

You don’t have to actively reach out to a neighbor or make a donation to help others during this unique and difficult time. By following CDC guidelines and practicing social distancing to keep yourself healthy, you are also helping prevent others from contracting COVID-19. You can feel good about contributing to flattening the curve just by staying home and watching your favorite movie. How great is that?

Media Contacts

Morgan Aguilarcommunications specialist, University of Utah Communications